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News >  Marijuana

Minnesota legalizes cannabis edibles, catching some Republicans off guard

July 3, 2022 Updated Sun., July 3, 2022 at 7:10 p.m.

Examples of some cannabis-infused edible products. Some members of the Minnesota Legislature said they were unaware they voted in favor of a measure permitting the sale of some cannabis edibles last week.  (Photo by John Nelson / EVERCANNABIS)
Examples of some cannabis-infused edible products. Some members of the Minnesota Legislature said they were unaware they voted in favor of a measure permitting the sale of some cannabis edibles last week. (Photo by John Nelson / EVERCANNABIS)
By Bryan Pietsch Washington Post

A Minnesota law went into effect Friday legalizing edibles containing small amounts of THC, the component in cannabis that provides a high, apparently surprising some Republicans, at least one of whom said he voted for the provision unknowingly.

The law permits the sale of edibles and beverages containing up to 5 milligrams of hemp-derived THC per serving. Most edibles in states where recreational cannabis is fully legalized contain 10 milligrams per serving.

The bill’s author, Democratic state Rep. Heather Edelson, said in a statement that “Minnesotans 21 and older will now be able to obtain the products they want in a safe and regulated manner.”

She added that the legislation was drafted in concert with the state agriculture and pharmacy boards.

The law, which passed the Republican-controlled state Senate in May, was signed into law by Democratic Gov. Tim Walz last month. But some Republicans told the Star Tribune after the law went into effect that they were caught off guard.

State Sen. Jim Abeler, a Republican from a Minneapolis suburb, told the newspaper that he hadn’t realized the bill broadly legalized products containing THC. He said he thought it had only permitted delta-8 THC, which provides milder effects, though it also legalized the sale of delta-9 THC, which causes stronger feelings more commonly associated with a high from cannabis products.

Abeler did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

State Sen. Michelle Benson, a Republican from Ham Lake, about 25 miles north of Minneapolis, “dodged repeated questions of whether she herself understood the law would legalize THC edibles,” the paper reported. She told the Star Tribune she wished the state pharmacy board had realized the full impact of the law earlier. Neither Benson nor the head of the pharmacy board immediately responded to requests for comment.

Edelson resisted the idea that Republicans didn’t understand the scope of the bill, saying that the author of the Senate version of the bill was a Republican, state Sen. Mark Koran, who co-chairs the medical cannabis task force with Edelson. “I have no doubt he understood and read the intent and what we were aiming to do with this legislation,” she said in an email. “There were no last-minute tactics pulled to pass this legislation.”

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